INVESTIGATIONS & PUBLIC INQUIRY
Our expert team of transport industry experienced and ex-enforcement experienced officers are best placed in Northern Ireland to provide support, assistance and representation to Operators who are under investigation or have been called to Public Inquiry.
Transport Regulation Unit (TRU)
Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) in Northern Ireland implement the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 on behalf of the Department for Infrastructure. Along with other authorities, they licence and regulate operators of goods vehicles over 3500kg.
Working with other statutory bodies such as DVA (DVSA in Great Britain) who have the power to stop, inspect and take enforcement action against vehicles and operators, TRU act to advise, guide, regulate, investigate and if necessary, take regulatory action against operators and transport managers who do not adhere to the strict rules in place to ensure compliance with the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010.
Using information reported to them directly by operators, from members of the public or information gathered from statutory partners such as DVA or PSNI, TRU have authority to call transport operators or managers to hearings and public inquiries where information and evidence is considered and your good repute, the trust placed in you to operate a safe and maintained fleet of vehicles, is re-examined.
TRU have authority to take action against an operator or transport manager including curtailment (reduction of authorised fleet), suspension or revocation of an operator licence, and for transport managers, removal of their good repute and disqualification from acting as transport managers. They can also direct operators to arrange independent compliance audits and transport managers to attend refresher training to satisfy the Department as to the repute or trustworthiness of that operator or transport manager.
Northern Ireland Public Inquiries
A public inquiry, or a less formal, in-chambers hearing, is an opportunity for TRU to hear information and evidence to allow for an examination of the applicant of an operator licence or an existing operator or transport manager before making decision to grant an application or to take regulatory action against an operator or transport manager.
You may be called to a hearing or public inquiry if:
- As an applicant, there is a concern or someone has objected to your operator licence application
- As an existing operator, you have not kept to the conditions of your operator licence or there is a concern or change to the authorised operating centre.
- As a transport manager, your conduct has come into question.
Attending a public inquiry can be a daunting experience and very often your livelihood can be affected by suspension or disqualification should your conduct lead to removal of your good repute by TRU. Very often, those attending public inquiries are represented legally by Solicitors and a Transport Consultant if TRU agree.
At a hearing or inquiry, TRU will listen to the information and circumstances of the application, case or issue and will listen to any objectors or pertinent information such as a report or official audit from DVA. They will speak to the applicant who can make representations before all arguments are summed up and the case considered by TRU who will notify a decision of an application or in a case, in writing, usually within 28 days.
In cases where conduct is being questioned, TRU may issue penalties such as:
- Refusal of a licence application.
- Refusal of a licence variation or include conditions to an operator licence.
- Give financial penalties or impose curtailments (reduction in fleet) to an operator.
- Suspend or terminate operator licences.
- Disqualify individuals or companies from holding an operator licence and disqualify transport managers.
How We Can Help
As a Transport Consultancy, with decades of experience in the transport industry, including staff with ex-enforcement backgrounds, we have experience on “both sides of the fence”. We can advise, assist, consult or represent you should you find yourself subject to a Public Inquiry or DVA Audit in Northern Ireland, or called to a hearing, or summonsed to court.
DVA, PSNI and TRU are not to be feared but, operators who come under scrutiny should never bury their head in the sand. In fact, TRU work very much from a place of trust. Showing pro-activity and engaging with them can often avoid the need for a public inquiry and when you show a willingness to engage and improve standards and levels of compliance, very often a less formal in-chambers hearing or even submission of paperwork is enough to satisfy the Department. But this is only possible with early and positive engagement.
For example, contracting NI Transport & Training to review your systems and procedures and carry out a Compliance Audit, rectifying any issues and training your staff will remove any possibility that you will come to the attention of the Department or any statutory partners. If you are notified of an upcoming DVA Audit, early engagement with NI Transport & Training will ensure that we can carry out our own audit, rectify any issues and remove any issues for DVA when they come to audit.
Your pro-activity and seeking out external help will stand you in good stead with the Department and this help is always positively reflected and acknowledged in DVA Audits and in Public Inquiries.
If you find yourself subject to a DVA Audit or have been called to Public Inquiry or In-Chambers Hearing, Contact Us IMMEDIATELY so that we have as much time as possible to assess the issues and take corrective action.